Guidance

Waiting to return to the UK during coronavirus (COVID-19)

Guidance for British people who are currently travelling abroad and are unable to return home due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

The UK government is working to ensure British people travelling abroad can return to the UK as soon as possible. Due to border closures and the restrictions in some countries, you may be in a location where you are currently unable to travel back to the UK.

This page provides guidance about how to stay safe and get the support you may need in the country you are in.

Checklist if you are waiting to return to the UK

If you cannot currently return to the UK:

  1. follow the advice of local authorities, including local measures to help minimise your risk of exposure to coronavirus
  2. find accommodation that is suitable for your needs
  3. check your visa, if you have one for the country you’re in. If it is due to expire, visit our travel advice and read the ‘staying during coronavirus’ section. The Foreign & Commonwealth Office has negotiated with local authorities in some countries to automatically extend visas if you cannot return
  4. contact your travel insurance provider to check your health cover. Most providers will look to extend single trip cover for up to 60 days if you are making every effort to return home
  5. read our travel advice of the country you’re in, in particular the ‘staying during coronavirus’ and ‘return to UK’ sections
  6. sign up to email alerts for the country where you are, so you are notified of any updates

If you need urgent consular help, contact your nearest British embassy, high commission or consulate.

Find suitable accommodation

You should contact your travel provider or travel agent to talk through accommodation options. You may also wish to contact your travel insurer to see if they can help. Our travel advice for the country you are in provides more information on your local situation.

If you have any concerns over your safety in your accommodation, speak to your insurers or travel provider to talk through your options. If you have been asked to leave, or have nowhere else to go, contact your local British Embassy, high commission or consulate. They may be able to offer advice on where to move to that would be a safer area to stay in.

In some countries one of our partners, The Salvation Army, may also be able to provide some basic assistance if you are in need. Contact your local British Embassy, high commission or consulate for advice.

Healthcare support

Your health is important whilst you are away from home. For advice, visit our healthcare support guidance.

You can also read our guidance on wellbeing and mental health abroad during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Financial support

The government provides a range of financial support to help you whilst you are abroad. Read our guidance on financial support whilst staying abroad during coronavirus.

Staying connected with your friends and family

You should stay in touch with your family and friends if you are unable to return home, so that they know you are safe and well.

To help you stay connected you should:

  • check your phone plan on details for international calling, or consider buying a local SIM card
  • to keep in touch use online services like FaceTime, Skype, WhatsApp, or Zoom
  • follow your nearest British embassy, high commission or consulate on social media to stay up-to-date with the latest information for where you are
Published 8 April 2020
Last updated 20 May 2020 + show all updates
  1. Updated information on visas: for some countries, the FCO has negotiated to automatically extend visas if you cannot return

  2. First published.